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Entries in Best Actor (147)


Best Actor 2000: Who Gets Your Vote!

RETRO REMATCH FUN!  Apropos of nothing, let's time travel back to [spinning wheel of randomness] 2000. Who gets your vote in... [spinning wheel of randomness again]... Best Actor? Make your case in the comments.

  • Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls
  • Russell Crowe, Gladiator
  • Tom Hanks, Cast Away
  • Ed Harris, Pollock
  • Geoffrey Rush, Quills

Bonus Q: If you could replace any of these men with these other key 2000 leads tell us who and why:

  • Michael Douglas, Wonder Boys (GG Nom)
  • Jamie Bell, Billy Elliott (SAG Nom)
  • George Clooney - O Brother Where Art Thou? (GG Win)
  • Christian Bale - American Psycho (zero nominations... except right here at The Film Experience where he medalled in our infant online year albeit at a different web address and a Boston non-profit indie film awards group called Chlotrudis then in their 6th year)

*Our actually serious Oscar competition investigation -- the "Smackdown" Series -- is not dead. There were just some speedbumps. News on the delayed 1963 Smackdown coming soon. 


NYFF: Sing the Electric "Steve Jobs"

Reporting from the ongoing New York Film Festival here is Jason on Oscar hopeful "Steve Jobs".

It should surprise no one that a movie directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin is all about rhythm. The rhythm is established at the start (and Steve Jobs runs zero to sixty so you'd best get a grip quick) and pulses outwards like the blink of a cursor, or a techno beat. You could probably set your watch to it... if you were a maniacal math genius who could work out the exact algorithm they're working off of. 

The new film is structured around three events in Jobs professional life: his first presentation of his Macintosh computer in 1984; the "perfect black cube" of the NeXT machine in 1988 after he was fired from Apple; and his triumphant return to the company a decade later with the crayola-tinted iMac every girl in my college dorm owned. Within each chapter, there are a series of sonnets of sorts, devoted to the folks in his life - his daughter, his work-wife, his boss, so on. The pieces shift once the rhythm is established, but structurally speaking the film is rigorous, in a (and I do not use these words lightly) soul-pleasing kind of way. Once you find your way in to Steve Jobs, there's this satisfaction in expectations, and the massaging thereof. [More...]

Click to read more ...


NYFF: Spielberg's frosty Bridge of Spies

Manuel reporting from the New York Film Festival on Steven Spielberg's latest Cold War film.

Bridge of Spies opens with a man working on a self-portrait. There’s a weariness to his features that he’s ably translating from his mirrored reflection onto his canvas. There’s a purpose to every brush stroke he takes. He works methodically. Silently.

Spielberg, long admired for large-scale adventures and expertly crafted action sequences, seems to have entered a quieter phase of his career. While War Horse seemed to play to his strengths, while trying John Ford on for size, the talky Lincoln showed that the director could create a kinetic urgency even in what was, for the most part, a chamber piece about laws and votes. Bridge of Spies pushes further still in this direction. Yes, we’re dealing with spies, and fallen aircrafts, government agents and tense phone calls, but at its heart, this is yet another installment of the Cold War-as-bureaucracy genre. [More...]

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Southpaw returning to the ring. (And by ring we mean movie theaters.)

someone wants an Oscar... someone wants an Oscar...

We say this in a sing-song teasing way but super-affectionately! For who beyond Jake Gyllenhaal among Hollywood's current leading men has earned more Oscar love than he's received? It's still virtually unthinkable that he missed the shortlist last year for Nightcrawler in which he burrowed into a character that proved far more indelible and challenging and even showy (and AMPAS loves that) than many of the actual nominees. And his work was better than almost all of theirs, too. (At least we gave him a prize right here)

Jake is in theaters right now climbing mountains in Everest but his headlining gig in the summer's modest boxing drama success Southpaw will get another go at theaters (and thus industry attention) this weekend courtesy of The Weinstein Company who just don't mess around when it comes to campaigning for gold. (Although, frankly, if they were going to do this at all, shouldn't they have y'know, announced it with more preliminary fanfare? And maybe not done it during Matt Damon's possibly record-busting weekend?)

Breaking into this year's Best Actor field might still prove difficult since his work in Southpaw isn't as memorable as his work in Nightcrawler and isn't as uniquely inspired as his work in next year's Demolition (he's so terrific in that one - pity about the delay.) On the other hand this year's competition could well thin out if The Revenant is not all that or if AMPAS voters view all the Spotlight guys as supporting, or if Johnny Depp can't reheat that super brief bonfire of Black Mass goodwill or if Matt Damon keeps sticking his foot in his mouth or if...

If if if if if if. You know how this works. Do you think he has a (long) shot? 



6 Questions. Best Actor / Supporting Actor Races

The Oscar prediction charts are revised for ACTOR and SUPPORTING ACTOR and boy is the competition ever on. Here are 5 questions for you to discuss in the comments and as you consider your own predictions at home. 

1. Is Best Supporting Actor actually stronger than Best Actor this year?
With the decision of Spotlight to run its two arguable leads as supporting (it is an ensemble film so this makes a kind of justified sense... even if a "convenient" kind) and excitement for Johnny Depp's Black Mass star turn already dying down (or is this just our imagination?) the Best Actor race suddenly looks a little thinner than expected and the Supporting Actor race a lot fuller. The category confusions that crop up every year now as well as Hollywood's deep love of all star male ensembles have made things a lot harder for true supporting players of the male persuasion. Years ago, for example, I'd guess that Stanley Tucci had a slam dunk case for his scene stealing in Spotlight and Chiwetel Ejiofor had a real dark horse opportunity as the sympathetic home base of The Martian (think Ed Harris's nominated role in Apollo 13) but I couldn't fit either of them into even the top 15. 

2. Will young actors be in the mix for a change?
While Oscar's love of young women and resistance to young men is well documented on this site (and in any perusal of Oscar stats) two of the most well regarded performance from the recent festival circuit were Abraham Attah, who is only 14, and Jacob Tremblay, who is only 8, who lead Beasts of No Nation and Room respectively. In almost all cases male leads who are very young go supporting with Oscar voters (think Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People, River Phoenix in Running on Empty, and Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense) though their female counterparts are harder to predict in terms of which category they might find traction in. Still I wonder if anyone will believe Attah as "supporting?" In the recent IndieWire TIFF poll we discussed -- which provides a good example of how few critics care about "category" distinctions -- Tremblay was very high up in the supporting votes (despite being the only male star of his two-hander movie) whereas Attah was high up in the leading charts despite playing opposite a pretty big star of the same gender in Idris Elba, who himself had extremely few leading votes (they were mostly supporting) which suggests to me that people won't ever think of Attah as supporting Elba but the other way around. 

3. Both male acting categories won't clear up until...?
Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight starts screening. Or perhaps you think the key film is another film entirely.

4. Which actor do you think has a better shot at winning (if nominated) than he does at actually being nominated?
My guess is Harvey Keitel in Youth. His film director/best friend feels like a supporting character, at least until he takes over the movie for about 20 minutes or so. You could make an easy case that he's more overdue for Oscar gold than the Spotlight boys for example. But maybe you feel this odd distinction goes to someone else in either lead or supporting - Dicaprio perhaps.

5. Do you think Oscar statistics will get a shake up this year?
The last time two men from the same film were nominated in the same category is quite a long time ago now though it didn't use to be all that rare. Two supporting actors happened in Bugsy (1991) 24 years ago. Two lead actors happened in Amadeus (1984) 31 years ago. Three supporting (male) actors nominated for the same film happened thrice, first with On the Waterfront (1954) and then twice over with The Godfather parts 1 and 2 (1972/1974)... could Hateful 8 or Spotlight actually make it a fourth? (Since 1991 the only category that has seen any double nominations in acting -- and it's happened a lot -- is Supporting Actress.)

6. If you had to vote for your own supporting actor ballot RIGHT NOW (preferences not predictions) who would you include?
It's a tough call but I'd be looking at these 11 names (Brolin, Del Toro, Elliott, Ejiofor, Tucci, Schreiber... and the guys from the best of summer in review) and these 2 if I decided to allow for the supporting distinction (Keaton & Keitel), category distinctions I'm still having internal debates about.


TIFF: Jake Gyllenhaal in "Demolition"

This review originally appeared in abridged version in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

All throughout Demolition, which opened the 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival which closes this coming Sunday, new widower Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is putting the title into action. His wife has just died, he is convinced he feels nothing about it, and he begins to tear things down and scatter their parts about. The general idea is ‘take something apart to see how it all fits together’ but he doesn’t bother with the fitting back together part.

He’s also demolitioning his own life, of course, in the process. This peculiar destructive streak starts out small with his morning routine. At first, in montage, this includes lots of preening and shaving (including his chest. *sniffle*) to turn him into a smooth starched and well dressed executive but it’s quickly abandoned. Cue: sexy scruff and increasingly erratic behavior. (Unfortunately we are not shown the return of the chest hair. Stingy move, movie!)

Everything has become a metaphor…”

…Davis intones in the middle of the picture to his confused and impatient boss and father-in-law (Chris Cooper), as an attempt to explain his new and frankly worrisome headspace. But he’s right. Everything is a metaphor in Demolition and thus, apart from Gyllenhaal’s work, the movie sparked polarized reactions. More...

Click to read more ...


With Six You Get Link-Roll

Pajiba Max Headroom was in The Knick ?!
Variety Jacob Trembly impresses opposite Brie Larson in Room which may have an awards future
NPR interviews Patricia Clarkson on her screen evolution from The Untouchables (1987) to Learning to Drive (2015)
AV Club Chris Evans happy to renew Marvel Studios contract - remember when he was considering not taking the role?
Awards Daily & Variety both love Steve Jobs and its "enthralling" leading man Michael Fassbender. I only skimmed (since I don't like to read reviews before seeing a picture) but most promising is that both reviews suggest that every actor brings it and that it's not at all a typical biopic in its construction or moods. Yay

And given the fresh spate of reviews and festival excitement, I've updated the BEST ACTOR PREDICTION CHART with Depp, Elba, Hardy, Fassbender, and others rising with strong reception to their work. More charts to follow